Hilliard residents, especially those near Tinapple Park, can attend the free "National Night Out" from 6-8 p.m. Aug. 2 in the park, sponsored by the Hilliard Division of Police.

Hilliard residents, especially those near Tinapple Park, can attend the free "National Night Out" from 6-8 p.m. Aug. 2 in the park, sponsored by the Hilliard Division of Police.

"This is only our second year," said officer Kris Settles, one of the organizers of the local event. "This stuff has been going on since the early '80s. We missed the boat a little bit, but now we're trying to get both feet into the fire."

Last year, Hilliard police held the event at Hoffman Trails Elementary.

"We had a large turnout for our first year," Settles said. "Last year, we gave away two bikes and a bunch of bicycle helmets."

But Settles said they want to visit different neighborhoods each year, which is why they'll be at Tinapple Park next week. He said they distributed flyers to area residents.

Sponsored by the National Association of Town Watch (NATW), the 28th annual National Night Out (NNO) is a crime/drug prevention event that has millions of people in more than 15,500 communities in North America participating annually. According to the NNO website, "NATW is a nonprofit crime prevention organization which works in cooperation with thousands of crime watch groups and law enforcement agencies throughout the country."

"We're registered with NATW," Settles said. "We follow along with their guidelines and use their suggestions."

Settles said Hilliard's NNO may include K-9 demonstrations, an accident investigation van, motorcycle units, and Norwich Township vehicles. Prizes will be awarded, and there will be assorted games and free food.

The idea of NNO is to heighten crime- and drug-prevention awareness; generate support and participation in local anticrime programs; strengthen relations between police and citizens; and send a message to criminals that neighborhoods are organized and strong.

"We get neighbors talking to each other," Settles said. "People may live one or two houses away from each other and not even know who's who. It gets people out of the house in a common area. We try to bring out police and fire, and whatever businesses want to come out and set up displays and hand out items.

"We set up a cornhole board, Frisbees, footballs, stuff for people to meet each other and meet us on a basis where we're not pulling them over and giving them a ticket," he said. "I've met people who have said' 'I talked to you last year at NNO.' I don't remember, but they remember."